How to live with Daubert in Georgia courts

For years Georgia lawyers practicing primarily in state rather than federal courts were able to avoid the budensome, expensive and sometimes absurd requirements of Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc.,509 U.S. 579, 113 S.Ct. 2786, 125 L.Ed.2d 469 (1993), and its progeny. Now, however, the dam has broken and all civil cases involving expert testimony in Georgia courts are subject to Daubert.

Therefore, it is necessary to prepare cases from the beginning with a plan to fulfill all the Daubert requirements. That advance planning will both increase the chance of the court admitting the expert's opinions and bolster the expert testimony so as to make it more persuasive to a jury.

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Trucking companies liable for injury even to unauthorized passengers

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations requiring the trucking company to bear financial responsibility to members of the traveling public for operation of trucks under their authority preempt contradictory state laws of agency. A number of these cases involve injuries to “unauthorized” passengers, including truck stop waitresses.

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Construction of insurance policies in Georgia

Insurance contracts are construed to protect the reasonable expectations of the insured, Georgia Farm Bureau Mut. Ins. Co. v. Meyers, 249 Ga.App. 322, 548 S.E.2d 67 (2001), and must be construed in accordance with the reasonable expectations of the insured. Anderson v. Southern Guaranty Ins. Co. &c., 235 Ga.App. 306, 309, 508 S.E.2d 726 (1998). The insurance contract should be construed to mean what a reasonable person in the insured's position would understand the terms to mean. Ga. Farm Bureau &c. Ins. Co. v. Huncke, 240 Ga.App. 580-581, 524 S.E.2d 302 (1999).

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Construction of long-term disability insurance in Georgia

Georgia courts, in determining whether or not an insured is totally disabled under a disability income policy, refuse to give a strict and literal interpretation to policy provisions.

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Arkansas congressman would have truck drivers work 16 hours per day

When the highway bill comes to the House floor tomorrow, Rep. John Boozman (R-Ark.), whose district includes the headquarters of both Wal-Mart and J. B. Hunt Transport, is planning to introduce an amendment that would extend the allowable workday of truck drivers from 14 to 16 hours – twice the number of hours that most Americans work – without any additional pay.

Driver fatigue and sleep deprivation are already major safety problems in the trucking industry. Requiring truckers to work 16 hours straight will further endanger motorists. The last thing we need is for tired truckers to become even more fatigued and threaten the safety of those around them on the roads. See Public Citizen release.

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Drivers of leased trucks are statutory employees of trucking companies

Generally, companies are not responsible for the negligence of independent contractors. However, in the trucking industry anyone driving under the authority of a motor carrier is deemed to be an employee for whose negligence the trucking company is vicariously liable.

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"Extreme caution" standard of care in 49 C.F.R. § 392.14 preempts any lower standard under state laws

State tort laws generally define the duty of drivers as ordinary care under an ordinary negligence standard. Occasionally, as in a guest passenger situation in Alabama, state law sets a different standard such as requiring proof of "willful or wanton" conduct in order to hold a defendant liable. However, when a motor carrier driver is driving in adverse weather, an "extreme caution" standard under 49 C.F.R. § 392.14 preempts any lower standard under state law.

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Manufacturers duty to warn of foreseeable hazards

Throughout the United States, and in Georgia, manufacturers have a duty to provide adequate warnings and instructions with regard to foreseeable dangers in the use of manufactured products.

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Wrongful Death Liability Under the Georgia Fair Business Practices Act

In a rare case, a wrongful death action in Georgia may be based upon unfair and deceptive acts and practices in violation of the Fair Business Practices Act which allows recovery of treble damages, punitive damages and attorney fees for intentional violations. This theory may be particularly applicable in products liability cases where a manufacturer has systematically deceived consumers with regard to product hazards.

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Statutory Construction in Georgia

Chancellor Bismark in Germany said that those who love laws and sausages should not see how either are made. Anyone who has watched a legislative body in action can well understand what he meant. However, we lawyers have to work with the statutes legislators pass, and try to make some sense out of those sausages. For that purpose rules of statutory construction have evolved in the courts. Following is a working memo briefly summarizing some of the principles of statutory construction that have been applied in Georgia and elsewhere, though it is not exhuastive in the citation of case authorities.

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